A small study has found that a plant-based diet is just as effective as proton pump inhibitors in treating laryngopharyngeal reflux, or LPR.
LPR is a disease in which stomach acid comes up into the throat to the level of the laryngopharynx. It is not the same as gastro-esophageal reflux, or GERD, which involves a backflow of stomach acid into the lower esophagus.
The retrospective study, in JAMA Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery, included 85 patients with an average age of 60 treated with the P.P.I.s Nexium and Dexilant, and 99 treated with alkaline water and the Mediterranean diet, a regimen low in meat and dairy, and rich in olive oil, fish, beans, fruits and vegetables.
The scientists used an index that measures severity of symptoms — excess throat mucus, heartburn and others — on a zero to 45-point scale.
In the P.P.I. group, 54 percent achieved a clinically significant six-point reduction on the index, compared with 63 percent for the diet cohort.
“If you think you have LPR, you should do a diet-based approach, instead of initiating these drugs that have potential side effects,” said the lead author, Dr. Craig H. Zalvan, chief of otolaryngology at Phelps Hospital in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.
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